Know What You Write

 He wrote Forgetfulness
and I know he knew what he wrote;
that gray mist that sneaks in sometimes,
the names that escape, the dreams
near forgotten.  He is intimate with them.

I walk the mica sparked rim of mountains
so tall I think I can touch the clouds,
like wraiths they fade when I reach for them
and the gray mist sneaks in. I have not
forgotten the feel of stone or the taste

of thin air but, still, I am chasing the wind,
knowing I can’t catch it and if I could, knowing
I wouldn’t know what to do with it,
It would be like holding the sea in a tea cup
and mourning its small horizon.

I will write of what can’t be touched,
for I am intimate with it, No matter how deep
into forgetfulness I sink, I shall never forget
the time I reached for the sun and came so close
 it almost burned my hand.

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It Remains to be Seen

Obelisk, monolith,
Call it what you will,
 it cracked.

Well, first it rocked,
and then it cracked,

History not withstanding
an earthquake left its mark
on Washington.

 By the time
the crowds arrived, it was dark.
Looking up to see the damage done

they saw stars
and from another angle,
stripes

and they walked away
praising the shine of the moon
on marble,

the snap of the flag
in the night wind.

It’s easy to be beguiled
by aesthetics,
but the fact remains

the monument has cracked.
We only pray
we’ve built a strong foundation.

In Autumn, Time Is a Leaf

Autumn’s child
this leaf that’s pillowed on the air,
a moment’s falling star with  springtime 
behind it and summer now done

A sigh
this moment of October flame
to be stored in the heart, kept alive in the mind
though ever so brief its sparkling time

Suspended
on the cool breath of fall, when the vines
are all dying, it has touched us forever
without leaving a scar.

The Play’s the Thing

I beg, make haste; the crime must be avenged!
The ghost has seen its duty to accuse.
O, fie due process!, let it be impinged!
The execution will not be recused.

What waiting grave proclaims a warming trend,
unless of course, the destination’s hell?
Lethal poison befits the brutal end,
A mix and switch, by his own hand he fell.

The play’s the thing, you lawless resolute,
Must it be midnight ere your lines do speak?
It is in your power to heal the mute,
The protagonist was not mad, nor weak.

Now, even with the mousetrap set and sprung,
The jury does defer til song is sung.

Forgive me, Joyce Kilmer

I thought that I could surely be
a poet with wisdom of the trees

if I could use transmogrified
and keep the meter in full stride.

But in my search for helpful muse
my eyes the night sky did peruse

and it was then I chanced to see
amidst tall trees so shadowy

the stark bare branches of an elm
with full harvest moon at the helm,

A work of art with tiny stars
to sparkle back-light from afar.

‘Twas God who made that handsome tree
then stripped it bare so regally.

Exposed and trembling, tempest tossed
no poem is born without a cost.

Alchemy

Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
let fortune’s bubbles rise and fall;
who sows a field, or trains a flower,
or plants a tree,
is more than all.
John Greenleaf Whittier

Most anyone
can see patterns in tea leaves,
faces in clouds, the future
in a far off gaze.

Crystal balls and tarot cards
can say that anything is so,
I have no way
of knowing.

It’s those
who read the leaves
while they’re still growing,
Those who can see the blight,

the broken stems, the nematodes.
The farmers who walk the fields,
squeeze the soil between their fingers,
take a taste to test acidity,

They
are the alchemists
who feed the hungry.

 

Instrument of Heaven

 

In courts of kings,
Before chiefs of clans,
Once a maple beside a pensive pond,

Resonant through battles waged
In peace to play a gladder note
The agony of death assuaged.

Now the magic’s lingering air still travels
with the poet’s quote, in silver tones
of symphony the savage beast is smote.